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Nevada Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Abortion Rights Group

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Nevada Supreme Court has approved an initiative petition to make reproductive rights a cornerstone of the state constitution, which was spearheaded by Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom.

The petition covers all fundamental reproductive rights, including those about tubal ligation, vasectomies, contraception, and infertility treatments.

Since every proposed law in Nevada can only address one topic, the original petition, which addressed every aspect of reproductive rights, was contested because it was too comprehensive.

“The petition from the abortion-rights group was held up in litigation since November when it was thrown out by Carson City District Judge James Russell. However, on Thursday the court ruled that reproductive rights pertained to a single subject, which gave the petition the green light,” KTVN reported.

Reproductive Freedom for All Nevada, one of the groups pushing to get the proposal on the ballot, celebrated the decision.

“Today’s decision is a resounding victory for our movement that builds on our momentum as we fight to lock the right to reproductive freedom into our state constitution,” Denise Lopez, Reproductive Freedom for All Nevada’s director, said.

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“As anti-abortion extremists continue to attack our fundamental rights — from abortion to birth control to fertility treatments — this decision recognizes that reproductive freedom includes all reproductive health care,” Lopez said.

“The initial version is much broader in scope; it included birth control and IVF as part of the definition for reproductive freedom. That got challenged in court and was thrown out by the district judge, saying it did not meet the single-subject rule. We knew that wasn’t accurate, and all these services are all the same and all reproductive freedom, so we pursued that challenge in the Supreme Court and won unanimously,” explained Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom Lindsey Harmon.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, abortion has usually benefited Democratic candidates when it has been on the ballot.

The Cook Political Report rates Nevada as a “toss-up” in both the Senate and presidential contests. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who defeated a GOP incumbent in 2018, is running for reelection in November. President Joe Biden won the state in 2020.

Florida’s ballot will include the issue of abortion, and Arizona and Montana, two states with fiercely contested Senate races, may also include it on their ballots.

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The attorney for the Coalition for Parents and Children, Jason Guinasso, said after the Nevada Supreme Court ruling that he is concerned it will set a bad legal precedent.

“The consequence of the court’s ruling will be to open the floodgates to broad and deceptive initiative proposals like the one at issue in this case. If you review the legislative history of the law, this was precisely what the law was meant to prevent. Further, the court’s analysis will likely render the single subject rule nugatory, and challenges based on single subject concerns will no longer be viable,” said Jason Guinasso.

The initiative petition will need to pass twice; once in the 2024 election cycle and again during the 2026 midterms.

If successful, it will provide greater protection than the current statute, which was created by volunteers in 1990.

“The 1990 referendum was passed with a group of volunteer women who went out and collected signatures on their own. I believe that, at the time, they needed to collect 35,000 signatures to get it on the ballot in 1990. So, the statutory protections were very much tied to the same language that was in Roe v. Wade and decided by the courts in 1973,” explained Harmon.

“The Dobbs decision coming down was an impetus for us to move forward. I think a lot of states are facing that challenge. How do we protect access in our state? Especially in a state like Nevada, where we will be such an important part of the landscape, considering we now share borders with states like Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. We play an important part, and we needed to do everything we could to protect abortion access in our state,” explained Harmon.

Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro applauded the Nevada Supreme Court’s ruling.

“It has always been abundantly clear that reproductive rights encompass the full scope of reproductive health care services, and today’s unanimous Nevada Supreme Court unequivocally reaffirms that principle. As we move forward, I am fully in support of Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom’s effort to advance their second petition focused on protecting abortion rights. Next session, the Legislature will take up additional measures to further protect birth control, IVF, and other critical reproductive health services; fringe radicals won’t stop Nevada’s progress,” said Cannizzaro.

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